Housing the Homeless with Co:Here
Homelessness in Canada is a complex and difficult problem, especially in regions experiencing a housing crisis, such as Vancouver. With no national housing program in place in Canada since 1994, the crisis is left up to individuals and private organizations to address. The CBWC is doing its part by establishing networks of churches that are already serving the homeless, and providing resource information and material for further efforts. In particular, CBWC’s Justice and Mercy Network seeks to inspire and equip churches in the work they do to provide affordable housing for those experiencing poverty, as well as refugees and uprooted peoples.
One CBWC church in Vancouver has been working especially hard to reach out to their community and find new ways to make room for people who have less. Tim Dickau, pastor of Grandview Calvary Baptist Church, is heading up the latest project through the Co:Here Foundation. For years, Grandview Calvary has been providing homes and shelter space to those in need and this newest project will make space for more than 26 individuals and families to live in community. The church donated the land, and the goal is to foster living in community. “We’ll have a staff member who will help connect folks to the resources they need, such as social and employment services,” says Tim.
Tim has been involved in community housing projects for more than 20 years and believes that this model can be used by other faith organizations with land assets, encouraging them to help out in a similar way.
“One of the characteristics of Jesus was that he welcomed people—and especially people who were on the edges and vulnerable and poor. It’s been part of the church’s mandate throughout history.”
Although this building is itself a new project, the Co:Here Foundation and Grandview Calvary have long histories welcoming vulnerable people into community. “It’s been a long, 20 year journey,” says Tim, speaking about Grandview Calvary. “A lot of it started with welcoming folks to a meal on Thursday nights in our church building, then becoming friends and developing relationship together.”
From there, they developed a number of community houses using the same model as the Co:Here Foundation, and the experience has been mutually transformative for the people who have lived in the houses.
“One of the characteristics of Jesus was that he welcomed people—and especially people who were on the edges and vulnerable and poor,” says Tim. “It’s been part of the church’s mandate throughout history.”
With this newest project, a major criteria for the tenant selection committee is that tenants have some connection to Grandview neighbourhood. In the same vein, although the church itself donated the land, the Co:Here Foundation is funded by a variety of community sources, including individuals, foundations, the city, the province. We are so grateful to everyone whose heart is to build healthy community and reach out to those with less.